Friday, January 31, 2014

No Velveeta? No Problem

As you may have undoubtedly already heard, according to Kraft there is a Velveeta shortage this year.  And of course this comes at the most inopportune time of Super Bowl Sunday.  Well, what if I told you that you need not worry.  There are plenty of ways to still make a cheesy delicious dip that does not require Velveeta but instead just a little know how.  And if you don't want a cheesy dip, then let me offer you some alternatives as well.

A simple cheese sauce is not hard to make.  It also give you the freedom to make it how you want to.  Purists will probably stick to cheddar or American cheese, but for the more adventurous you can try different cheeses or even cheese combinations.  To make a simple cheese sauce you will need:

1 quart whole milk
3 oz AP flour
3 oz butter
8 oz cheese, shredded
Salt and White pepper to taste

The first step is to heat your butter and add your flour.  Allow it to cook slightly to make a roux on medium to medium low heat.  Once you have allowed the roux to form, add your cold milk to the sauce pan stirring the entire time to avoid lumps.  Once the roux and milk have been completely incorporated and the mixture has thickened turn down the heat to low.  Now you can start to mix in your cheese.  The key here is to add it SLOWLY.  Don't dump it in all at once as this will make your cheese sauce grainy.  Add a little cheese, mix and allow it to melt, then add some more.  After you are done adding your cheese then add your seasonings.  This allows your to adjust to your tastes.  If you want to make your cheese sauce fancy, you can always try adding a dash of Worcestershire sauce, some dry mustard or some hot sauce.  To make a queso dip, try using Asadero, Oaxaca, or Chihuahua cheese as well as some pico de gallo or your own favorite salsa.

Now if you don't want a cheese sauce or you want something else to accompany it, here are some alternatives:

How about some delicious guacamole to accompany your queso dip.  All you need is
2 medium ripe (soft) avacados
1/2 white onion diced or minced
2 jalapenos or serranos stems and seeds removed and diced
1/2 cup cilantro chopped
2-3 tbsp of lime juice
1 large tomato diced
salt and pepper to taste

First just mash the avocados to your desired consistency.  If you like your guacamole chunky don't mash them up so much.  For a creamier guacamole you can even use a food processor if you'd like.  After that just fold in all of your other ingredients and season to your liking.  If you like you can even add a tablespoon of cumin for extra flavor.  Oh, and if you are truly lazy or pressed for time, just take the avocados and mix them with pico de gallo or salsa. I once made a "guacamole" with nothing but some under ripe avocados, a blender, and the contents of my friend's spice rack.

Now one dip you might want to give a chance is hummus.  It is not hard to make and so adaptable and customizable it might as well be a Honda.  What you will need is

2 cans of cooked chickpeas, cooked
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 garlic cloves minced
2-3 tsp cumin
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
paprika for garnish

Just combine the first five ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.  While processing, slowly drizzle in olive oil.  Reserve about a tablespoon of the oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour the hummus into a serving bowl.  Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with paprika.  If you want to give your hummus a little kick, add a bit of cayenne pepper to it.  Like I said earlier, you can really customize your hummus.  Add anything from roasted red peppers to a Mediterranean olive spread.   Or get crazy and add black beans, or even feta cheese.  Yum.

Hopefully this will leave you better prepared for Super Sunday, even without the Velveeta!

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